EA dropped us into space, as they released the Deep Space Homer event. It is based on the episode “Deep Space Homer“, the 15th episode of Season 5, and the 96th episode to date. This Episode Fact File will recap the episode with pictures and facts. Get the scoop right after the jump!
Deep Space Homer
After seeing their popularity decline (as reflected by lower TV ratings for shuttle launches), NASA decides to improve its public image by sending a man into space to whom the average American can relate. In this case, Joe Average is Homer Simpson.
Episode Details: ‘Deep Space Homer’ is the 15th episode of Season 5 as well as the 96th episode of The Simpsons. The episode aired on FOX on February 24, 1994 and was written by David Mirkin and directed by Carlos Baeza.
At the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, it is time for the awarding of the “Worker of the Week” award, a chore for the other plant workers, but a great time for Homer, the only employee who has never won the award (obviously). He is confident he will win after reading the employee handbook and finding out that each employee must win the award at least once regardless of incompetency. However, Mr. Burns gives the Worker of the Week award to an Inanimate carbon rod. Homer is infuriated, and starts to feel dejected that no one likes him. He turns to the TV for solace and ends up on a channel that is broadcasting a live space shuttle launch, which he finds dull and changes the channel. Meanwhile, NASA learns that its Nielsen ratings have declined, and decide to send an “average shmoe” into space after realizing the popularity of blue collar comedy programs. At that moment, Homer telephones NASA to complain about their “boring space launches”, which makes NASA determine that they have found their man. But, when they arrive at Moe’s Tavern, and confront Homer, he thinks he is in trouble and blames Barney for making the prank call. The NASA employees ask Barney to be an astronaut, and when Homer realizes what the proposal entails, he steps in and takes credit for the call.
NASA takes both Homer and Barney to Cape Canaveral to train them into astronauts. They pit the two in competition against one another as they can only take one to space. Under NASA‘s alcohol ban, Barney quickly develops superior skills and is selected to fly with Buzz Aldrin and astronaut Race Banyon. However, when Barney toasts his victory with Champagne, he reverts back to his normal alcoholic self and injures himself, although the champagne was non-alcoholic. Homer wins by default and is selected for space flight, but is very nervous about going. Just as they prepare to take off in the Corvair space shuttle, Homer runs away. He talks with Marge on the phone, and she says that he ought to take advantage of going into space. He agrees and the launch proceeds. To NASA‘s delight, it is a Nielsen ratings smash.
When on the shuttle, Homer smuggles potato chips on board. He opens the bag, but is unaware that they will clog the instruments. His appetite seems to save the day as he floats after the chips in zero-G, but he flies into an ant farm, destroying it, and letting the ants loose in the shuttle. James Taylor comes in over the radio to sing a song, but the disaster continues on board as the ants destroy the navigation system. James Taylor suggests that they blow the bugs out the front hatch, which the astronauts do, but Homer fails to put on his “shuttle belt” and is nearly blown out of the open hatch before grabbing its handle and clinging for life. Buzz pulls him inside but due to the vacuum’s sheer force, Homer breaks the hatch handle. He inadvertently uses a carbon rod to seal the door shut and they return to Earth.
Although Buzz Aldrin declares Homer the hero, the press see the inanimate carbon rod as being the bigger hero. The rod is then featured on magazine covers with the headline “In Rod We Trust” and is given its own ticker-tape parade. Back at home, Homer is disappointed that he did not get as much respect as he had hoped, but the family still honors him for his achievement.
“Deep Space Homer” was written by then-executive producer David Mirkin and is his only writing credit for The Simpsons. Mirkin had worked on the idea for the episode for a long time, basing the story on a NASA scheme to send normal people into space in order to spark interest amongst the general public. There was some controversy amongst the show’s writing staff when the episode was in production. Some of the writers felt that having Homer go into space was too “large” an idea. Matt Groening felt that the idea was so big that it gave the writers “nowhere to go”. As a result, every aspect of the show was worked on to make the concept work. Several silly gags were toned down to make the episode feel more realistic, including an idea that everyone at NASA was as stupid as Homer. The writers focused more upon the relationship between Homer and his family and Homer‘s attempts to be a hero.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, and James Taylor both guest star as themselves in this episode. Some of the writers were concerned about Aldrin‘s line, “second comes right after first”, feeling it was insulting to Aldrin. An alternative line was written: “first to take a soil sample”, but Aldrin had no problem with saying the original line. A version of James Taylor‘s “Fire and Rain” was recorded specifically for the episode containing some altered lyrics. Taylor‘s original recording session was included as an extra on the DVD.
Although the episode was directed by Carlos Baeza, the potato chip sequence was directed by David Silverman. Some computer animation created using an Amiga was used in the sequence in order to make the potato chip rotation as smooth as possible. This was the only episode of The Simpsons written by David Mirkin, who was also the executive producer at the time.
NASA loved the episode, and astronaut Edward Lu asked for a copy of it to be sent on a supply ship to the International Space Station. The DVD remains there for astronauts to view. “Deep Space Homer” is MSNBC’s fourth favorite episode, citing Homer‘s realization that Planet of the Apes is set on Earth as “pure genius.” Empire magazine named it a “contender for greatest ever episode”, and listed it as the third best movie parody in the show. In his book, Planet Simpson, Chris Turner names the episode as being one of his five favorites, saying it is “second to none,” despite listing “Last Exit to Springfield” as his favorite episode. He described the long sequence that begins with Homer eating potato chips in the space shuttle and ends with Kent Brockman’s dramatic speech as being “simply among the finest comedic moments in the history of television”. The Daily Telegraph also named the episode among their ten favorites.
Both Buzz Aldrin and James Taylor received praise for their guest performances. IGN ranked James Taylor as being the twenty-first best guest appearance in the show’s history. The Phoenix.com published their own list of “Top 20 guest stars” and Taylor placed eighteenth. Among The Simpsons staff, the episode is a favorite of David Silverman. On the other hand it also contains one of Matt Groening‘s least favorite jokes, when Homer‘s face changes into Popeye and Richard Nixon while exposed to G-force.
“Deep Space Homer” is the source of the “Overlord meme”, which is lifted from Kent Brockman‘s line “And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords” and is commonly used on internet forums when a “participant vastly overstates the degree of oppression or social control expected to arise from the topic in question” or to express mock submission, usually for the purpose of humor. The term was used by New Scientist magazine.
COUCH GAG!: The family runs to the couch, only to find a fat man sitting on it. They squeeze in to the left of him.
- The episode title is a pun on the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- The episode features numerous film parodies, mostly referencing The Right Stuff and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The scene where Homer and Barney are dueling in an arena is a reference to “The Gamesters of Triskelion“, an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.
- The two scenes where Homer experiences excessive G-force, his face is transformed into Popeye and Richard Nixon.
- Kent Brockman‘s line “I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.” has became a meme and idiom, being used in popular culture.
- James Taylor mentions that he and Art Garfunkel created a total vacuum outside their country house using an air-compressor to rid themselves of an ant problem. This is impossible unless you could enclose the house in a chamber of some sort.
- Homer mentions going into space in a deleted scene of “Mother Simpson“.
- NASA apparently sent Homer up into space again for the Restaged Family Album. (“Homerazzi“)
- In Marge Simpson Living Marge reminds Homer that he has tried snowplowing (“Mr. Plow“), webhosting (“The Computer Wore Menace Shoes“), trucking (“Maximum Homerdrive“), fortune cookie writing (“A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love“), cartoon voiceovers (“The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show“), food critic (“Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?“), screen writer (“Beyond Blunderdome“), mixologist (“Flaming Moe’s“), bootlegger (“Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment“) and astronaut (“Deep Space Homer”) when he was searching for a new job.
- In “Krusty Gets Kancelled“, Luke Perry lands in a Pillow Factory, which is then destroyed. In “Deep Space Homer”, Barney bounces off the roof of the same pillow factory, fully intact, one season later.
- When the second photo of the carbon rod is taken on a magazine cover, Homer‘s space suit glove disappears.
- Buzz Aldrin‘s hair changed from brown to white in one shot.
- Homer seems not to figure out that Planet of the Apes is actually about the Earth until this episode. Yet in “I Married Marge“, when Marge asks him if he’s thought about the future, he asks, “You mean, when apes will rule the earth?” This might imply he’d already understood the ending of Planet of the Apes before this episode.
- Homer is the only person NOT to win the “worker of the week” award — but he was the only person other than Smithers to win “Employee of the Month”!
Previous Episode: Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy
Next Episode: Homer Loves Flanders
That is all from this special Episode Fact File and I would like to thank WikiSimpsons for the information for this post and Nathan for the base design of it.
Till next time, Happy Tapping everyone!